Kazuaki Nanaki does not remember how he dies.
All he remembers is the gentle sensation of falling asleep, and the flash of bright lights. Of course, he has seen these things many times. But, this time, he sees an even brighter light. He hears voices, shouting. Some calling his name, he thinks, but maybe that is just the wishful thinking of a lonely math teacher.
Nanaki is afraid. Not even when he was plagued by the shadows of his past was it this dark in his dreams. For a brief second he wonders if they are returning, his tormented visions of the bird he once loved (the bird he still loves, and will always love, he knows).
But nothing comes for him.
The quail waits, for so long he waits, but nothing happens. So, cautiously, as if the ground beneath him would fall away at any second (which it might) he takes a step. And then another. And another.
His soft white wings (Once black he remembers, but that time is gone now) feel glued to his sides, and he does not even attempt to remove them. For some reason, he feels as if flying in this place would be wrong. So he walks.
He walks on and on, but nothing changes. This place is barren, and empty. It is strange. His whole life he has dealt with cluttered noises, cluttered feelings, and his own cluttered thoughts, but now it is empty. He is empty. It is almost a…relaxing feeling.
Then the noise comes again.
It is piercing noise, so loud and jumbled that he cannot tell what exactly it is. It sounds like love and hate and longing and regret and joy and sadness and terror and madness all wrapped up into one cacophonous melody of insanity.
Almost as if on instinct, he spreads his fragile wings and takes off away from the noise, flapping as hard and as furiously as he can. A primal fear has taken hold on his body, he can feel it, but he doesn't fight it. He has to get away from that noise.
Once he is so far away that all he can hear in the blackness is the sound of his wings cutting through the air like knives, he lands. He opens his terrified eyes slowly, and gasps.
It is not black anymore.
It isn't white, either.
It is a millet field.
In front of him, the black ground graduates into green summer grass, and then into a simple yellow field of millet. The sky looks as if someone spilled their set of watercolors onto it, but it still managed to look like a beautiful accident. The reds and pinks and oranges blend together to form what Nanaki thinks is the loveliest thing he has ever seen.
And then a small brown beak peeks into view, and he changes that opinion.
"Hello." The owner of the beak says shyly, coming into full view. Nanaki is surprised at how he looks. His brown feathers are no longer matted, but are soft-looking and shiny. His eyes are no longer tortured or guilty, but are brown pools of gentle, subdued happiness.
"Nageki…" Nanaki says breathlessly. He has never had a vision like this before. Not one where Nageki wasn't accusing him of his death, not one where Nageki was happy. But he preferred this much better.
"Hitori." Nageki says quietly. Nanaki sighs. Yes, that was his name, once, wasn't it?
"And it still is." Nageki speaks again, and Nanaki-no, Hitori jumps, not realizing the other bird could read his thoughts. Then again, maybe he wasn't. Nageki always had been good at telling what he was thinking.
"..But I'm not still the same person, am I..?" Hitori mumbles, looking down in shame. He remembers all the things he has done…all the things that he didn't do. He barely even notices that his white feathers are no longer white, but a lovely shade of black and red. Like they once were.
"You're still the same old sleepyhead to me." Nageki whispers, a bit of mirth to his tone. The mourning dove then sobers, repeating. "You're still my brother."
Hitori looks up, then, and doesn't see any blame or hatred in Nageki's eyes. He doesn't even see sadness. All he sees is love.
A brown wing is outstretched to him. "Come on, now. Let's pick some millet seeds for dinner, okay?"
He lifts his black wing and takes hold of Nageki's letting the dove lead him into the field. He feels strangely calm, as if he could stay here forever. "I missed you." He says, wiping away tears that he did not even know were there.
Nageki only smiles, picking a seed and placing it into Hitori's wing.
"I promised we'd meet again, didn't I?"
Uzune Hitori does not remember how he dies.
But somehow, under that watercolor-mistake sky, he thinks that it doesn't really matter.